Al Franken, the newest member of the Senate who this month gave Democrats their 60th seat in the upper chamber, made his debut in high-profile Senate business today, in front of national television cameras at Sonia Sotomayor's first confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Franken is a member.
As the most junior senator in the room, he spoke last among the committee's 18 members, taking his turn at the back of the line as senators offered their opening remarks.
As many expected, Franken acknowledged his newness to the Senate, almost prostrating himself before the committee's veteran members, saying he has much to learn, and paying tribute to Sen. Ted Kennedy.
"I am truly humbled to join the Judiciary Committee," Franken said, calling Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) "sir" in thanking Leahy for "your warm welcome and the consideration that you have given me."
He paid respect to Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-AL), promising to work with Republicans. "I look forward to working over the years with you and my other Republican colleagues in the Senate on improving the lives of all Americans," Franken said, citing former Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone (D), who died in a plane crash in 2002, as an example of the bipartisanship he'll strive for.